Hot toys top shopping lists

By Tonya Fennell: Freedom Newspapers

He’s a furry, red monster with googly eyes who goes by the name of Elmo. And he tops the list of must-have Christmas toys of 2006, according to the Web site www.besttoys2006.com.

The original Tickle Me Elmo doll was a Christmas favorite in 1996, with children delighting in the doll’s vibrating giggles. This year’s version, called the T.M.X. Elmo with “X” standing for extreme, chortles uncontrollably, slaps his knee and falls down after being tickled.

But finding the doll of the popular Sesame Street character could prove to be no laughing matter for parents.

Portales resident Shauna Foster was definitely not smiling, let alone laughing, as she searched Friday at Wal-Mart for the toy. Standing in the doll aisle, Foster’s brown eyes roamed the shelves that were laden with several other Elmo dolls, including Elmo in a bird costume and a baby Elmo who hums.

But, after minutes of searching, Foster discovered none of the dolls was the T.M.X. Elmo.

The 32-year-old mother began her search at the Portales Wal-Mart, only to be told it was out of stock. So, she decided to take a chance on finding the Elmo doll at the Clovis store.

“I was coming to Clovis anyway for other errands,” she said. “But it (T.M.X. Elmo) isn’t here either.”

According to Clovis Wal-Mart co-manager Forrest Williams, the Clovis retail store received its first shipment of the dolls in mid-September, but their shelf life was short-lived.

“We sold out in the first three hours,” Williams said. “I’m pretty sure we (Wal-Mart) might get more (T.M.X. Elmo dolls).”

But the uncertainty of the local stores receiving more of the prized dolls has Foster worried.

“I have a 4-year-old daughter who is expecting this doll on Christmas morning,” she said. “So, I plan to call relatives in other towns and search on the Internet.”

Several of the dolls have already appeared on eBay, with price tags as high as $150. The T.M.X. Elmo’s suggested retail price is $39.99.

Although the Elmo doll may be too pricey for some parents, Williams said other popular toys are in stock and priced affordably.

Williams said another popular Christmas toy is an update on an old classic — Monopoly. The newest version of the game, called Monopoly Here and Now, features cool new tokens and property from around the world for sale at current market prices.

“People are already shopping,” Williams said, “and they are buying this game.”